Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Love, music, sex and death



Never having heard of this delightful young woman, though I sure as hell have now, I was mesmerised by this song on the car radio this afternoon, on Adelaide's local ABC.

I used to listen to, and perform, a lot of folk music when I was in my teens and twenties. But I didn't have the analytical skills I have since acquired, in 35 years of reading and thinking about literature and society, to think about these kinds of songs in a way that any educated young woman would automatically think about them now. If someone held a gun to my head and said 'Write a 3,000 word feminist analysis of this song and its narrative structure in the next three hours or you will be shot,' there is no doubt that I would get out of it alive.

But never mind that for the moment -- and you will get the gist at a visceral level anyway. Just have a listen to Sarah Calderwood's filigree musicianship and this haunting tale of commerce and nemesis, impossible to tell convincingly in any but a minor key.



19 comments:

Anthony said...

Fantastico! You might also like Kate Rusby if you're rediscovering this seam of UK music. Actually, she's from the north country so I should say "Kate Roosby". My favourite album is "Little Lights": some originals, some traditionals, a Richard Thompson cover, and a collaboration with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (as featured in "Brassed Off" [the Band, not Kate, were featured])

Helen said...

"Celtic Tragedy", my friend Trish calls this genre.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yep. I was thinking as I was listening in the car that the story is actually quite Shakespearean in its essence. First song of this kind I ever heard was Peter, Paul and Mary singing 'Polly Von' - 'But she'd her apron wrapped about her, and he took her for a swan'. As I recall, my 12-year-old take on this was something like Serves you right for shooting swans with bows and arrows, you pig.

phillhunt said...

The Butcher Boy would be a good example of "Celtic Tragedy".

Sinead O'Connor's take on it from the film adaptation is beautiful.

I haven't seen the film but Patrick McCabe's book is one of my favourite reads.

paul walter said...

Yes, a sad, sweet thing and the musicianship is intricate and underplayed, in the best anglo celtic way.
Of course it talks of the alienating sexual economy critiqued by JS Mill, the Brontes, George Elliot, Flaubert, Hardy and Emily Dickinson, with a little of Dante's Francesca Da Rimini and her lover thrown in to illustrate the point, as to the blasphemy of commodification of the soul, resisted by true humans..

Barbara Temperton said...

Beautiful, Kerryn. Thanks for sharing.

paul walter said...

Noted the Jon Kudelka tweet;

"Something you can sing complicated harmonies with, to keep you awake".

Swans carry bird lice.
Like Tony Abbott our archer just, "does what a mans got to do"- how could he do other?
If silly women insist on trying disguise themselves as swans when women's protectors are about the place releiving them of the intrusions of mobile lice infestations, what can we say?

(shrugs shoulders, lowers gaze..)

Casey said...

" with a little of Dante's Francesca Da Rimini and her lover thrown in to illustrate the point"

Ah, Paul. You, like Dante the pilgrim have been seduced by Francesca. Dante the writer was trying to show you something else again. Unless you'd like to undermine Dante the poet with a feminist re-reading of Francesca. But first you might consider that she was trying to seduce Dante the pilgrim, when he swooned. To undo Dante, you have to understand what the poet was saying, as well as what the pilgrim was feeling. They are quite distinct. One is a character, the other an author. There is to be no sympathy for those in hell. Francesca was written with feminine wiles intact. This is why she mentions the that love overcame her whilst reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. That's why you can feel the hint of irritation that Paolo now hangs off her shoulder for all eternity. Il contrapasso sucks in Hell. She's no longer in love with her lover Paul. But I'm all for a feminist re-reading if you wanna go for it. But then you'd also have to do a political re-reading and question why the prophet of Islam was there, and Dante's familial enemies and territorial enemies, or whatever they were, certain popes he did not like, etc and frack. Good luck to you. He put an awful lot of folks in hell. If I was Beatrice I would have slapped him in the face, once I saw him - but no, that didn't happen either.

Casey said...

Which is to say, this song and it's narrative arc was written with a feminist sensibility in mind. It is about a woman as an object of exchange and the outcome when a woman resists that - an outcome which always the same - death or exclusion. Francesca di Rimini, as Dante portrayed her was most certainly not written in this way. Though I'd be pleased if you liberated her from her evil evil ways. Her portrayal is indeed misogynist.

paul walter said...

Casey, Casey...I missed you.
We will soar together under the Austral Astrals and Ley Lines on your broomstick in Black Silk like Stevie Nicks, for a visitation to the Grimethorpe Colliery; they will play "Polly Von", just to make sure it is not a Celtic Tragedy or even one of the Eric Old Thwaite train-spotting epics.

But tell me, but yet nascent Child of the Moon, how shall you say Francesca wears Prada!!
Together, whirling through the Vortex, clinging together for survival and eternal Love, shall we not still contemplate the fate of nasty old men, retreated into the iron fortress of self.
I was actually using the Francesca DaRimini analogy as most of the public still has the common impression that it's a love poem about two people destroyed by the System, the question of alleged "misoginy" from Dante or anyone else, was a question not really upper most in my mind, because like most other people I don't see Francesca as, "evil, mean, wicked and nasty".
Whether her protrayal was consciously or unconsciously mysoginist is not really germane to the point I was making, but ta.. we talk about it later over a mug of Dandelion Tea.

Casey said...
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Casey said...
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Casey said...
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Casey said...

Now. You can only imagine the response you got Paul Walter. However, this being Kerryn Goldsworthy's blog, I regretted my choice responses, and deleted them, because I would rather the tone remain in a minor chord befitting the post and not trip into the acid jazz you seem to have been listening to. I will only say this. I surprises me that lobsters were not mentioned.

You raised "Dante's Francesca" and so I responded to that version and not any other you raised in your later riposte, if that's what it is. If you wish to discount my observations of that Francesca, then you will have to go read Canto V in the Inferno, think about what I said, read some commentary on the matter and then get back to me. If you could refrain from the Gaudi like visions that would be great too.

paul walter said...

Can see, have been severely chastened (again, and god knows why).
Lot to be said for a good Rock Lobster, but..
Therefore, it is appropriate that the "code varification" word for this post is, "berpro"

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I stopped understanding this conversation a long time ago, but I do fear that we are no longer doing justice to the lovely young woman in the post.

Anonymous said...

That was tops PC. Reminds me of Matty Groves, "I'd rather a kiss from dead Matty's lips than you in your finery.". And we never knew her name either, she was only Lord McDonalds wife.
Dylwah

Anonymous said...

Doh "step it out Mary" comprehension fail
D

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Or The Raggle Taggle Gypsy. What care I for your goose-feather bed, etc.